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Biggest gang related mass murder in Long Beach

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Post  JinkyRctongs Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:22 pm

Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

June 10, 1996


Article Text:

The massacre two years ago was possibly the deadliest racial confrontation in the city's history. A cold, calculated ambush, it culminated one of Long Beach's saddest chapters.
During the previous five years, three dozen young men -- many of them innocent bystanders -- were killed in the warfare between Latino and Southeast Asian gangs. Many others were wounded, scarred or maimed for life. It was a senseless war that began over turf but evolved into a fury of ethnic cleansing.
Yet, despite the intensity of the combat, the general public for years seemed almost apathetic. Perhaps it was due to the misconception that everyone involved was a gang member. (The police identified only one-fourth of the victims as hard-core gang members.) Perhaps it was because many of the victims were Latino or Southeast Asian immigrants. Or perhaps it was because most of the shootings took place along the so-called Anaheim Corridor in one of the poorest parts of Long Beach.
For whatever reason, that changed on the night of May 15, 1994. On that date, six young men and teen-agers -- Latinos from Los Angeles -- were shot, three of them fatally. Today the two youths suspected of killing them go on trial.
Two years ago, the victims were getting ready to drive home from a party in Long Beach near Lewis Avenue and 12th Street.
Little did they know as they climbed into their blue Toyota Corolla that five days earlier, two Southeast Asian teen-agers -- one 13, one 19 -- were gunned down on another Long Beach street, probably by Latino gangbangers. Nor could they have known that two days later, two Latinos were wounded but survived a payback shooting.
In any case, on that night, two Asian youths -- draped in the black garb of grim reapers -- appeared out of the dark and approached the Toyota, one on each side. Aiming a gun directly at the driver's forehead, one asked, ``Do you want me to shoot you in the head?''
Without waiting for an answer, he pulled the trigger.
As the driver, 23-year-old Justino Rodriguez, slumped over the steering wheel, the two assailants began firing indiscriminately with 9 mm pistols. Their bullets hit everyone in the car. Four of the six youths staggered from the vehicle, but in the end, only three would live. Besides Rodriguez, Juan Luis Figueroa, 14, and Hector Alvarez, 17, died. Figueroa's 19-year-old brother was among the wounded.
None of the victims was a gang member.
Five dead in five days
As the gunmen disappeared into the night, many people in Long Beach woke up. The carnage -- five dead in as many days -- was the straw that finally broke the camel's back.
A cry went out: ``Enough is enough!''
All available police resources were focused on the area, and the Police Department's gang detail was greatly expanded. The City Council took up the issue, demanding the hiring of more Asian officers. City Manager Jim Hankla ordered police to take whatever steps they deemed necessary to secure the peace and find the gunmen. He also directed a top deputy to launch an all-out effort to get the warring gangs to sit down at a peace table. The city's Human Relations Commission began a series of hearings to get to the heart of the matter.
Behind the scenes, former gang members talked to their brethren.
Sadly, the summer of '94 would see more shootings and more dead youngsters. But the intensity of that awful week in May was a climax, the high tide of the violent surge. Afterward, tensions waned. In July, the Press-Telegram profiled the 36 victims of the gang war in a special project titled ``A Plea for Peace,'' and by the end of the summer, the leading gangs announced they had agreed to a cease-fire.
Since then, although fighting sometimes erupts between the adversaries, the truce has held. In the words of one former gang member who helped forge the agreement: ``It's one man's word against another's. You can take that to the bank.''
Now the focus has shifted to the two young Cambodians who are set to go to trial today for the May 15, 1994, slayings. Each faces three counts of murder and three of attempted murder. If found guilty, they could spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
Long Beach police arrested the two cousins within weeks of the crime. Both allegedly belonged to the TRG -- the city's most feared Asian gang -- when the shooting occurred.
Once a victim himself
One is Kamsao Dengon, now 19, a Poly High School dropout. During a pretrial hearing last week, Dengon seems nervous, quick to speak, as he sits in court clad in a distinctive blue and white jailhouse jumpsuit. His cheeks are acne-scarred. His rough inmate haircut fades into a short tail in back.
He is the one who allegedly shot the driver.
Two years before the crime, Dengon was himself an innocent victim. When he was only 15, he was kidnapped by two young Latinos, probably gang members. They shot him, then drove around displaying him to their friends as a sort of living trophy.
Dengon managed to save his life by causing the car they were in to crash, police said. The kidnappers fled. Officers found him abandoned in the car, critically wounded.
His cousin and co-defendant is Bunlom Hom, also a Poly dropout.
Hom, 18, looks even younger. The hair above his lip and on his chin could easily be described as peach fuzz. Looking at his smile, it is difficult to imagine him brandishing a lethal weapon or blazing away into a crowded car.
Shortly after Hom was arrested, former classmates at Poly described him as more of a follower than a leader. In class, he was quiet, they said. But with his gangster friends, it was a different story, and he would open up.
``They were like a family to him, where he would go to hide and get away from his problems,'' said one boy.
This is not the first trial. That occurred in April, but lasted only a few days before a mistrial was called. After two witnesses testified, it became clear that certain evidence had not been made available to the defendants, as required. For example, the defense was unaware of artist renderings that could play a role in identifying the killers.
``At the truncated first trial, of the witnesses who testified, it appeared that neither could identify Mr. Hom as a perpetrator,'' said Deputy Public Defender Stanley Perlo, who is representing Hom.
So today the process begins to select a new judge and jury. They will decide the fate of two teenagers accused of firing the shots heard round the world of Long Beach.


Old articles from the "War Years" in Long Beach between TRG & Longos... http://www.asiafinest.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=126444

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Post  P_LOKO Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:57 am

Good article Jinks. I enjoyed reading this piece. I personally know some Long Beach TRG's...kicked it at Balboa at night once with them dudes. CRAZY ass Rambo's.

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Post  rune sindel Sat Aug 14, 2010 5:29 pm

thats bad and all but for that to be the worst in long beaches history is not that bad. nothin shocking
rune sindel
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Post  dstrm300 Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:55 am

TRG is hella active, especially the ones n LB and P Town. Them ESL dudes aint no joke either, does anybody kno if they beef with WSL or NSL?
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